Until hospitality has a dedicated minister in government we remain vulnerable, as the past 15 months has all too ably proved.
Presently, we have Nigel Huddleston and Paul Scully, both with diverse and most would say overcrowded portfolios, each with partial responsibility for hospitality, but neither head of the ship. Huddleston rarely refers to hospitality and Scully seems all too pleased with his lot to rock any boats.
Given the damage incurred throughout the pandemic while hospitality has remained constantly on the front line, and suffered front line wounds, you might reasonably expect more from either or both.
Our Brexit-related staffing crisis for example should, and could have been picked up by a Minister for Hospitality long before this happened.
The desperate need to maintain VAT at lower levels will need a Minister for Hospitality to argue our case and put forward the reasoning.
There are so many issues that underpin our sectors need for a Minister for Hospitality, most are pressing but not addressed. Those that should be, seemingly too busy with portfolios packed with too many responsibilities to handle any effectively.
The government is now looking at hospitality to power a huge economic boom this summer, staycations. Yet those in power ‘representing’ us seem unaware of the precarious position we are in. How can we perform this economic miracle, when there are simply not enough people to facilitate it? We then end up with staff working longer hours, in more stressful circumstances and the reputation of the industry is further damaged – resulting in more UK nationals preferring not to join us as a career option. Resisting this outcome has already forced many operators to reduce their opening hours to protect their teams, hardly powering a boom.
So, where does that leave us? We took the petition to appoint a Minister for Hospitality to parliament where it was successfully debated. Carried unanimously in January we are still awaiting a response from Boris Johnson. None has been forthcoming.
In utter frustration with the lack of any communication of substance following the debate’s outcome, I am now reaching out to Sir Keir Starmer. I have been impressed with his shadow ministers approach our sector, especially Lucy Powell in the debate, and I am curious as to his and the Labour Party’s wider vision for hospitality.
I will contact Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North, and Chair of The House of Commons Petitions committee who was extremely helpful in relation to the debate in January, and ask… if Labour are more concerned with helping hospitality recover and thrive than government. I will also reach out to other parties.
Yours, in assurance of my continued commitment to the appointment of a Minister for Hospitality
Editor Chef Publishing
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